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Mountain climbers of Leningrad

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  • Mountain climbers of Leningrad

    Just found an English language article about the living legend of Leningrad/St. Petersburg, mountain climber Mikhail Bobrov. It was thanks to him and people like Olga Firsova, Alois Zemba and several others that the precision of German artillery shellings was reduced as the shining golden domes and spires of the city were used as reference points by German artillery spotters.

    Stealth domes – Leningrad siege chronicles

    ...Leningrad authorities couldn’t do much about the blockade on food and supplies, but they could make it more difficult for the German guns to pick their targets. They needed to cover up the gilded landmarks.

    Mikhail Bobrov was part of the team of young mountain climbers who were given the task. I met Mikhail on a drizzly autumnal afternoon in modern day St. Petersburg. He took me to the top of St Isaac’s Cathedral to explain how the splendor of the city skyline was hidden from the eyes of the enemy.

    “Once on top, where the cross is attached, we covered the smallest upper part of the dome with camouflage paint. There was no problem there. Then each of the four mountaineers tied a rope around his waist, the other end attached to the rail, lowered himself to the main dome and painted his section. We worked from the four sides of the dome. It took us a week to accomplish this. Therefore, in a week's time the dome of Saint Isaac’s was disguised from the eyes of the German guns. Then we started to camouflage the cathedral's minor bell towers, all four of them. Ten days later, Saint Isaac's Cathedral ceased to exist for the German artillery and bombers. It disappeared,” Mikhail recalls.
    Mikhail Bobrov


    Aloiz Zembo


    Alexandra Prigozheva


    Mikhail Shestakov, husband of Olga Firsova


    Olga Firsova, the leader of the mountain climbers brigade


    Mikhail Bobrov recounts an incident which took place in the Caucasus mountains in January 1943 and its unexpected development 20 years later.

    www.histours.ru

    Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

  • #2
    Wow wwho would have though of a use for mountain climbers in a city built on a swamp. Excellent story.

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    • #3
      Interesting book about another part of mountain climbers of Leningrad: http://lib.ru/MEMUARY/WEGER/rubinsht...-pictures.html (sorry, only in Russian)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Vitaly View Post
        Interesting book about another part of mountain climbers of Leningrad: http://lib.ru/MEMUARY/WEGER/rubinsht...-pictures.html (sorry, only in Russian)
        Thank you, it's very interesting indeed.
        www.histours.ru

        Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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        • #5
          Just found this interview with Bobrov on YouTube, purely by accident I'd never expect a river cruise company to do anything like this, especially which is not Russian, but here you are. Kudos to the people in the Viking Cruises management who could see further than the regular cheesy touristy stuff.

          www.histours.ru

          Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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          • #6
            Yet more fascinating material ShAA: - excellent.
            "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
            Samuel Johnson.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ShAA View Post
              Just found this interview with Bobrov on YouTube, purely by accident I'd never expect a river cruise company to do anything like this, especially which is not Russian, but here you are. Kudos to the people in the Viking Cruises management who could see further than the regular cheesy touristy stuff.

              Interesting video

              Though I don't understand why they have to have the English spoken with a "Russian" accent(most documentaries do that).
              Wisdom is personal

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Karri View Post
                Though I don't understand why they have to have the English spoken with a "Russian" accent(most documentaries do that).
                Yeah, beside making his speech harder to understand and just being a bit irritating, it sounds rather patronising as well. Russians, just like any other nation, are quite able to learn foreign accents and there's no need to repeat stupid Hollywood cliches from the Cold War in each and every dubbing/voiceover of Russian characters.
                www.histours.ru

                Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                  Yeah, beside making his speech harder to understand and just being a bit irritating, it sounds rather patronising as well. Russians, just like any other nation, are quite able to learn foreign accents and there's no need to repeat stupid Hollywood cliches from the Cold War in each and every dubbing/voiceover of Russian characters.
                  I wonder if it is to tell the viewer that this guy is foreigner. Now that I think of it the same applies to all countries other than USA(japanese, french etc "accents" sounds just as ridicilous) In fact they have subtitles for some English accents.
                  Wisdom is personal

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Karri View Post
                    I wonder if it is to tell the viewer that this guy is foreigner. Now that I think of it the same applies to all countries other than USA(japanese, french etc "accents" sounds just as ridicilous) In fact they have subtitles for some English accents.
                    After getting asked if Russia is still Communist or if any of the noblemen are still living in their palaces and mansions, I'm not holding my fingers crossed in hopes for any deep cultural understanding from the general crowd of foreign tourists.

                    However, when one watches the movie called "A Russian hero" showing a man wearing Soviet medals, speaking Russian in the background and who, as the video has just explained, has lived his entire life in Russia, one might get at least a vague suspicion that this person could incidentally appear to be Russian - even without the ridiculous accent added.
                    www.histours.ru

                    Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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                    • #11
                      Painting the Domes sounds more like a "feel good" more than it would cut down on the accuracy of the German guns. Those domes would have been plotted a long time ago by the Germans.
                      "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                      Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                      you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
                        Painting the Domes sounds more like a "feel good" more than it would cut down on the accuracy of the German guns. Those domes would have been plotted a long time ago by the Germans.
                        They were plotted for sure but the visibilty is key here.
                        www.histours.ru

                        Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
                          Painting the Domes sounds more like a "feel good" more than it would cut down on the accuracy of the German guns. Those domes would have been plotted a long time ago by the Germans.
                          The Russian mountain climbers were not obscuring targets, they were denying information.

                          The Domes were reference points at known locations visible from a great distance. The Germans could use them to determine the exact location of their own batteries, forward observers, recon units, etc.

                          Shoot an azimuth to the glint of the dome, draw the back azimuth line from the dome on a map, and you know you're on that line. If you have one other reference, like the road junction behind you or a hilltop, that you know is surveyed on your map, then you can determine your exact location by drawing a second line. That's extremely useful to a Forward Observer trying to call in fire on a target, or to a battery laying in the guns after moving.

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